ABINGDON, Va. (WFXR) — On Tuesday, officials say a Bland County man pleaded guilty to more than a dozen counts of producing child pornography at his home, as well as illegal possession of a firearm as a previously-convicted felon.

According to court documents, members of the Bland County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police executed a state search warrant on Feb. 12 at the home of 42-year-old William Dean Blankenship after receiving information that he had engaged in sexual acts with children and possessed child pornography.

During that search, authorities reportedly found a firearm, a cell phone, and other electronic devices that belonged to Blankenship.

Officials say that Blankenship’s phone contained more than 50 video files of child pornography produced by Blankenship, which depicted him engaging in sexual intercourse with two minors.

According to a statement shared by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, Sept. 29, further investigation determined Blankenship routinely coerced and enticed the two minors to engage in sexual activity with him and with each another after giving them narcotics and other controlled substances. Blankenship’s abuse reportedly began when the minors were approximately 13 and 14 years old.

“Blankenship repeatedly used coercive means to abuse his child victims, and now faces a lengthy prison sentence for these horrific acts,” Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar stated. “I am thankful for the hard work of the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and Virginia State Police, who will continue to investigate and, together with our office, prosecute anyone like Blankenship who seeks to prey on our children.”

“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to have partnered with the Bland County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold Mr. Blankenship accountable for his reprehensible actions,” said Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of Washington D.C. Homeland Security Investigations.  “His sentencing should serve as a reminder to others who victimize children; we will work tirelessly to bring predators to justice.” 

The DOJ says Blankenship pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Sept. 28 to 17 counts of production of child pornography and one count of illegal possession of a firearm after a previous felony conviction.

According to officials, Blankenship is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 17 and faces 20 to 50 years in federal prison, per his plea agreement. However, a federal district court judge will determine the length of his prison term after considering U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case — which is reportedly under investigation by Department of Homeland Security Investigations and Virginia State Police — is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Murphy.

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